China’s the Type 15 light tank was deployed in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began a first round of exercises in 2020. The light tank were specifically designed with advantages for plateau regions and can play important roles in safeguarding border defense frontlines with elevations of more than 4,000 meters. The Type 15 light tank was revealed to the general public at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019 in Beijing.
Heavier hostile weapons cannot reach the oxygen-depleted border areas and if lighter they do not have enough firepower. The light tank feature powerful engines, enabling them to maneuver efficiently in Tibet’s terrains. The Type 15 tank is the world’s only modern lightweight tank in service, noting it is equipped with a 105-millimeter gun and advanced sensors that can “devastate enemy light armored vehicles in regions not suitable for heavy main battle tank deployment.”
The Type 15 or VT-5 (export variant) is a Chinese third generation lightweight main battle tank (MBT) designed by Norinco. The vehicle was a replacement for the antiqued Type 62 light tank introduced in 1963 in which heavier Type 99 tanks have difficulties traversing. Sightings of Type 15 were reported by Chinese citizens, but its existence was formally confirmed by the Chinese Ministry of Defense in December 2018. The tank is confirmed in service as of 2018 and was showcased in the 70th National Day parade on Oct 1st 2019.
Type 15’s rifled gun with new 105 mm ammunition, which is superior to the 105mm tank gun (Type 94) fitted on Type 88 tank and Type 59 tank. When launching 105 mm armor-piercing projectiles, Type 15 is capable to effectively penetrates the active main battle tanks equipped by various countries and regions in southern and southwestern China. The tank is equipped with NRBC protection, air conditioning system, command-and control equipment, a tactical command system and a navigation system that includes INS (Inertial Navigation System) and satellite communications.